I'm running The Emerald Spire on Roll20 and my players keep running about the map when not in combat "exploring". While this may not be an issue in other games, in this game there are an abundance of traps that they keep jumping into, disrupting the flow of the game. When we play face to face we are set up for the scene with a description giving us a good idea of what is around us, we then process to explore as a unit and not just run around like mad men. This however does not seem to work online. For example, when they enter a room and I start to explain the scene a player will walk into the room, hit a trap, then trigger combat. I cannot then go back and explain things because they have changed.

I'm a new GM and was hoping for tips on how people manage their party's exploring ruins and such out of combat.

I feel like it's a constant cycle of fighting, then exploring, but as I start reading the description of an area, the party runs 60 feet away into traps with mobs, and they roll initiative again.

I've asked players to please not rush around the place before I describe where they are and are seeing but they seem to be back at it the next room they enter.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 5 '19 at 3:17

Take away their token movement ability.

This may be too extreme for your group, but under the character token settings, you can control who can move the token. If only you can move it at their request, this particular problem is solved. It may create others, though. Switching back and forth can be tedious as well.

Dynamic Lighting includes movement restrictions.

If you have a paid subscription, you can use dynamic lighting settings to restrict movement, and only allow the player's view to update when they drop the token. Wall off areas you don't want explored, such as behind a door, with a small piece of wall on the lighting map, that you can move when the door is opened.

Make your descriptions short.

Give a one-sentence overview of the room, and then add details when players are exploring. This may make the exploration phase more interesting, as specific players get their turns uncovering your cool details.

Keep them in turn order, perhaps by marching order.

Just stay in play-by-turn during exploration, and ask players what they are doing in order; ignore any moves on the map that are out-of-turn.

Let them run into traps and fights.

You can just continue as you have been, and let the careless players run into trouble. You can get back to the description after the chaos of the fight is over, or if they are just running on to the next fight, they may miss a lot of loot and clues.

I hope some mix of these suggestions can answer your problem.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have any experience with these solutions? Some of these sound extremely difficult to manage or have fun while doing; others sound like what OP has already tried. You'll have to add additional suggestions on how to improve their attempts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 4 '19 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ The dynamic lighting solution is the most workable, IMO. The tokens simply won't move out of the prescribed area until the DM is ready and opens the door. \$\endgroup\$
    – bvstuart
    Feb 4 '19 at 20:31

Just keep reading.

You come to a fork in the trampled path... Player moves their token to one of the exits immediately. ... where it appears a group of the smaller treants and two of the handler druids, with green robes, stony expressions, and readied war staves were waiting for you in the middle of the path...

While the players may ultimately dictate the pace of the game in what leads they follow and when, that doesn’t mean they can just avoid something by being faster with their tokens than you are with the details. Just proceed as if they didn’t even try, and wait to acknowledge it after you’ve finished with the description.

It may feel like a disrespectful screwjob, but as soon as one of the room descriptions makes the hasted course of action an obvious bad idea, you’ll probably end up with a player saying “wait, crap, then I don’t go that way” and all will be well.

Best part is, you can tailor that delayed acknowledgment to your table and intended play style. You can, if you wish, go full screwjob and make it clear this kind of haste is dangerous:

... and as Shanksworth strolls right past them like they aren’t there, they all take opportunity attacks with advantage due to surprise. Watch where you’re going!

Or you can take a more understanding approach:

... and with your passive perception you notice them 60 feet out, arrange your tokens in marching order. Shanksworth, that includes you, you’re still back with the party when all this happens.

And there are middle grounds:

... Shanksworth’s haste to get there first leaves him halfway between the two parties. Hope you roll well on initiative to cover your teammate!


... you notice them 60 feet out, etc. Shanksworth, you were about to walk right through these guys without stopping to notice, but one of your buddies caught you by the shoulder in time and pulled you back into rank. They might not be so lucky if you go off on your own again.


Sevenbrokenbricks's answer is quite good, so I won't rehash all of that, but there's one thing I'd like to add.

Online players don't have the same non-verbal queues that GM is explaining things, nor the same barrier to reaching for the pieces (Which normally gets a GM reaction which the player can understand). They may not know there's something to describe, especially if you're doing an adventure where not every room is full of critical things.

Even just as simple as adding "Ok, move your tokens to the doorway and I'll tell you what you see", or even just a quick "Ok, stop there" as they're moving before going to your description & tailing it with "What do you do now?" may give the players the queue they're not getting to know you don't want them to be taking actions. This is often clear from non-verbal queues in an in-person game but it's easy to not realize if you can't see the GM.

You may find just making it clearer to your players what's happening gets the desired outcome.


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